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9847Re: [Synoptic-L] documentary independence

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  • Maluflen@aol.com
    Sep 28, 2004
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      In a message dated 9/28/2004 1:51:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time, dgentil@... writes:

      The central premise is that if a category of text (A) and another category
      of text (B) share a similar frequency of vocabulary items, above and beyond
      any similarity we would expect, given that both categories are taken from
      the synoptics, and if another category (C) does not share a similar
      frequency of vocabulary items with (A) and (B), then (A) and (B) most
      likely have the same author, and (C) most likely has a different author.

      Hmmm... I am wondering whether to try to tease out what this all means, or just to let it stand as a monument to the stunning perlucidity of argumenation in favor of Markan priority. More seriously, I see a potential problem here in the fact that, on the one hand, you refer to "authors" of text here and on the other, the argument seems to presuppose a secondary author who is really, in a significant sense, more a copier than an author. I'm not sure exactly how this observation affects your argument, because it is not perfectly clear to me yet what your argument is, but perhaps some light will emerge if I proceed to read your next sentence

      The study shows that the categories which include material in common
      between Matthew and Mark show a similarity to categories which contain
      material found only in Mark. But the categories containing material unique
      to Matthew, do not show a similar relation to the categories containing
      material common to Matthew and Mark.

      Now you are writing in sentences I can understand, and if its components are true, your study would seem to be a valid, if inconclusive, argument in favor of Markan priority. I am not exactly sure how you are using the term "categories" in the above. Does it mean something more than "passages"? Also, I think it would be interesting if you could supply a concrete example, that could then be discussed, of the phenomenon the above sentences intend to convey. I realize that your original argument did not depend on a single item, but was rather cumulative in force. But I still find it difficult to evaluate your claims without the help of a few particulars. Maybe you could report on what you would regard as the most telling instances of the phenomenon you describe?

      Hence...the material in common between Matthew and Mark was likely
      originally authored by the same person who produced the rest of Mark, and
      not be the same person that produced the rest of Matthew.

      Your conclusion intrigues me because it is counter-intuitive. It states the opposite of what I would think to be true, coming at the problem from an approach not based exclusively on detailed vocabulary statistics. I think the material common to Matthew and Mark is demonstrably more Matthean than it is Markan in origin. I think, for instance, that the miracles in the two Gospels function differently in the two communication settings, and that that of Matthew is much more likely earlier than that of Mark. In Matthew the miracles of Jesus are part of a scriptural argument that legitimates Jesus as Israel's Messiah; in Mark the miracles are used to illustrate the saving mediation of Jesus' divine power in an ecclesial situation. Mark is not only no longer interested in legitimating Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, he is no longer even particularly interested in defining Jesus' relationship vis-a-vis Israel nor does he understand this relationship to be Jesus' defining identity. In other words, Mark's perspective is that of the later Christian creeds.

      Leonard Maluf
      Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
      Weston, MA

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